Read Chapter VI here.
When the alarm clock sounded at 4:35, Bisi groaned. She hadn’t enjoyed her sleep at all. She had forgotten how sleep-starved one became when a new-born baby arrived. The baby cried almost every hour since midnight and she was always the first to wake up to the sound. Whether it was because of maternal instinct or because she was a light sleeper, she didn’t find it amusing. It took all the strength she had in her bones to sit up. She yawned and turned to find Fii sound asleep. Before her mind could process a thought, she found herself rolling her eyes at him.
Oh the day hasn’t even started and I have already sinned, Bisi thought regretfully. How could he bring a baby out of their marriage and expect her to mother him like her very own whiles he slept when the baby cried? Why was she even complaining? It is a man’s world after all, isn’t it?
She dragged herself out of bed and entered the girls’ room. Kukuaa was already up, praying on her knees beside her bed. She looked up when she heard the door open. Bisi smiled at her and then glanced at Ewuresi who was still sleeping.
“I’ll wake her up when I’m done,” Kukuaa said.
“Okay; pray for me too,” she said.
“I will, mummy.” Bisi nodded and closed the door after her. Just as she took a step away from the room, the baby shrieked. Bisi sighed. She seriously hadn’t prepped herself for this. She turned towards the room where he lay.
“Shush,” she said gently as she picked him up.
“You don’t want to wake your sister up. When she wakes up before her own time, it’s not one of her finest moments. I’m sure you’ll find that out when you grow up a little.” The baby grew quiet. At least he didn’t keep on crying whenever she picked him up; that was a good thing, she thought.
She prepared breakfast and sat down to feed the baby. She found herself dozing off. When she woke up, she realized the baby was looking at her intently.
“Wondering why I’m dozing off? Life is hard,” she said and put the bottle down. He raised his tiny hand and touched her face. She kissed his soft palm.
“Yeah, me too. Let’s go; I have to get ready.”
She placed Nhyira on the bed beside his father and used pillows to barricade him from the edge. She entered the bathroom.
Fiifi turned and threw his arm towards Bisi’s side of the bed and felt his arm around a rather small and soft body. He heard a stunned shriek which made him open his eyes. His heart leaped when he realized he had almost squashed the baby with his heavy arm. He could hear Bisi humming in the shower. How could she be so reckless? Couldn’t she consider that he could have ended up hurting him? He thought angrily. He took the baby and placed him on his chest and patted his back gently.
Bisi came out of the bathroom to find the baby on Fii’s chest; both father and son sleeping. A part of her was happy that Fiifi finally got he wanted and another part of her was saddened by the fact that she wasn’t the one to give him that one thing. She quickly dressed up and went downstairs.
Kukuaa and Ewuresi were already eating their breakfast. She joined them.
“Is dad ready?” Kukuaa asked.
“He’s still sleeping.” Kukuaa checked her watch.
“I see; so you are taking us to school?” Bisi nodded and sipped her tea. She glanced at Esi who was munching on her cereal quietly. Ewuresi was clearly not a morning person; her cheerful mood only grew with the sunrise.
“You okay, babe?” she asked, touching her face. Ewuresi nodded, sleep still dancing in her eyes. She kissed her forehead. They finished their breakfast and Bisi went back upstairs.
Fiifi woke up to find Bisi packing up her bag.
“Hey, good morning. We’re on our way out. I left you some breakfast. You can handle the baby, right?” He glanced down at the baby on his chest who was still sleeping.
“Why did you leave him so close to me? I almost squashed him with my arm.”
“Sorry; I figured he wouldn’t cry if he felt someone next to him. I’m off, Fii.”
“So what, I take him to work with me?” Bisi turned to face him.
“I don’t know; whatever you had in mind when you were making him,” she said and left the room.
Kukuaa sat in the front seat whiles Esi slept at the back. Bisi was singing along to some Avalon tunes on the radio when Kukuaa asked, “So dad is not going to work today?”
“I’m sure he will.”
“And the baby?”
“He might take him to Grandma’s.”
“I remember you stayed home after Esi was born.”
“Yeah, new mothers are given some months off to cater for the newborn baby.”
“Nhyira is newborn, more or less.” Bisi said nothing.
“Is it because he is not your baby?”
“What do you mean?” Bisi asked, not looking at her.
“You’re not going to take the leave because Nhyira isn’t your baby?”
Bisi shifted in her seat. “It’s not like that, Kuks. I must deliver to earn the maternity leave.”
“So you can’t get the leave or you won’t?” She sighed.
“I know it is as difficult for you to accept this baby just as it is for me. You’ve being strong so far and I know it also gets to you. You can’t help but feel that you lost your baby because of Nhyira and you struggle with having to despise him for it. But God knows best. Maybe the baby would have come out deformed or something and He spared you the pain of raising such a child. Instead, he brought you a baby who would change our lives forever…hopefully for the better. So, as the sweet mother that you are, don’t give Nhyira an iota less of what you’d readily give to Esi and me. He is your son and you are his mother. What dad did might not be right but everything that we encounter happens for own good. We have to accept that.”
Bisi blinked and tears fell down her face. She bit down on her lower lip so she wouldn’t sob.
She heard a grunt and turned to glance at Kukuaa. She had dozed off. She wiped the tears off her face.
She arrived at the school a few minutes to seven o’clock. Both girls were awake but still a little dull.
“We’re here. Give me a kiss,” she said, pointing to her cheek. Esi leaned forward and kissed her mother. Kukuaa hugged her mother and Bisi kissed her cheek.
“Take her to class for me, okay?”
“Sure, mummy.” They got out of the car and she waved them. She drove away.
Throughout work, she kept thinking about what Kukuaa had told her. If there was anyone who would antagonize the baby with her, it would be Kuks. Why she told her what she did, she had no idea. Was she implying she went on leave to take care of him?
Fiifi entered his mother’s house with a restless Nhyira on his arm. She was having her breakfast.
“Is everything all right?” He sat across her on the dining table.
“Yeah; I know you’ve done your part raising me and my girls and I also know that once a mother, always a mother.”
“Enough with the preamble, Fii. What do you want?”
“Could you please babysit your grandson?”
“Till I can settle on another arrangement.”
“Why, is something wrong?”
“Well, I might have asked B to take a leave to take care of the baby and it didn’t go down well with her.”
“I can imagine. Did you suggest it or did you order her to?”
“Oh no, I didn’t order her; I just…” He sighed.
“You have to give her time to adjust to this, Fii. She needs to warm up to the situation and come to accept the baby and love him as her own. Any other moment before that and any sacrifice you require of her would seem like a burden to her. Let her come to terms with it and let’s see…”
“What if she never does? Does that mean Nhyira would grow up not feeling the love of his mother?”
“Bisi can never be a mother to Nhyira till she decides to. You can make her a mother by bringing home a baby but you can’t force her to mother him. I know the kind of woman Bisi is and I’m sure she’s doing her best.”
“I’m not saying she’s not trying her best, mother; she’s done more than enough. I feel like she’s punishing me for breaking her trust and she’s using Nhyira to do that. I don’t want Nhyira to suffer for my indiscretion.”
“The sins of the father being visited on the child; I understand your grief. But what can we do? Go on your knees and pray for forgiveness and ask that God floods your wife’s heart with love for Nhyira or else, I’m afraid this beautiful baby that you’ve wanted for so long would ruin the wonderful family you have; starting with your wife.” He nodded.
“Give him to me and go on to work. I’ll be glad to look after him. He’ll keep me preoccupied.”
“Thanks mum; I’ll give you an allowance for his upkeep and I’ll make the driver available to you so you can go shopping for him whenever you need to.”
“He’s my grandson, Fii; not a client. Go, I’ll handle it.”
“Thanks, mum.” He kissed her cheek and left the house.
Bisi was summoned to the office of the programs director.
“Good day, Mrs. Pratt. Have a seat, please.”
“Thanks, sir.” She sat.
“How’s your family doing?”
“They are doing well by God’s grace; thanks for asking. Yours?”
“Same grace. You’ve been an amazing member to this media family and we wouldn’t be where we are without your incredible contribution. That is why my team thinks we need to give you a promotion…” Bisi gasped. He nodded.
“Yep which you duly deserve. The public loves your face and voice and you’re taking us places. We’d want to give you yet another platform to reach even further corners of our country. What do you say, Bisi?”
Bisi stared at him, blinking away.
Fiifi went to pick up the girls after school. He gave them the usual ice-cream treat which kept Esi all hyper and chatty. Kukuaa noticed he was a bit absent-minded.
“Are you okay, daddy? You seem quiet.”
“Yeah, sweetie. Just a couple of things on my mind.”
“Uh huh. I took Nhyira to Grandma’s. We will pass by and pick him up, okay?”
Bisi arrived home about an hour after Fiifi and the kids. The girls were doing their homework.
“Hi girls; where’s daddy?”
“He took the baby upstairs.”
“Okay; I’ll be down soon to fix you something okay?”
“Fruit salad!” Esi’s voice rang out.
“I’ll check if I’ve enough to prepare some for you. I’ll be right back.” She went upstairs to find Fiifi changing Nhyira’s diapers.
“Hello.” He looked up.
“Hi. How was your day?”
“It was fine.” Nhyira turned to look at Bisi and he smiled.
“He is happy to see you,” Fii remarked. Bisi smiled as she picked him up.
“So am I.” She kissed him loudly on the cheek. She gave him back to Fii.
“Going to change. What would you like to have?”
“Don’t feel for anything in particular. Ask Ewuresi, she always has something she craves for.”
“She has already requested for fruit salad. I think I’ll decide the main course myself or else I have to go shopping to prepare what she suggests.”
“True; Esi seems to have a sophisticated taste.”
“I wonder who she got it from,” she said with a sly grin and left the room.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said after her. She laughed.
Later in the night after taking her shower, Bisi entered the girls’ room. Ewuresi sat up from her bed.
“Read me a story, mama!” Bisi sighed.
“Really? You’re already sleepy.”
“Please…I’ll sleep faster when you read. Here,” she said, taking a copy of the Love Brewed in an African Pot comic book on her bed. Bisi went to lie beside her and took the book from her.
“Where did we get to the last time?”
“I don’t remember. Why don’t you start?”
“All over?” She nodded.
“You better be asleep by the time I flip this page.” She giggled.
“Okay, here we go…” Thankfully, Esi fell asleep when she got to the third page. She covered her up and joined Kukuaa who was reading over her notes.
“Kuks, I need to tell you something.” Kukuaa put her notebook down.
“My boss called me to his office today and he wants to give me a promotion.”
“That’s great, mum!”
“I know but it also means I’ll might spend longer hours at work most of the time.”
“Oh okay; don’t worry; I can take care of Esi and myself. As for Nhyira, I’m sure dad can handle him.”
“About what you were saying in the car today, were you suggesting that I take some time off to take care of Nhyira?”
“Oh no, I was only asking…but if you take time off, you will lose the promotion, won’t you?”
“Well…that’s a sacrifice I have to consider.”
“Come on, mum! You’ve worked so hard to get here and I’m proud of you. Don’t let dad’s baby get in the way.” Bisi arched a brow. Was she the same Kukuaa who spoke in the car? Sure, this was typical Kukuaa but in the car, she sounded totally different.
“Grandma can take care of Nhyira. Take the promotion, mummy.” She nodded.
“Thanks, dear.” She hugged her. “Remember to pray, all right?”
“I will. Goodnight, mum.”
“Goodnight, sweetness.” She left the room.
It wasn’t your daughter speaking in the car, a calm voice spoke in her mind. Of course it wasn’t, she thought. What was she going to do? She had been working so hard to earn this promotion. Would Fii be happy for her or would he prefer she rather played mother to his son?
Josephine Amoako (c) 2016
Read Chapter IX here.